Freelance: Shooting my First Short Film

Well, I did it.  After years of thinking and talking about it.  I did it.  I wrote a film, conned some friends into helping me with it, and shot it.  It was fun, frustrating at times, meditative at others, and something I want to do again and again.  For many years I’ve really considered myself more of a documentary film maker forever: my first ‘film’ that I shot and cut together at age 12 or 13 was shot on Hi-8 about a creek restoration outside of Portland, OR.  I mean, how much more documentary nerdy can you get?  However, over the years I’ve done my fair share of creative fiction writing, some of which has been published, much of which is simply scrawled on slowly yellowing paper in notebooks scattered throughout my life.  Something took hold of me this summer and over the course of a weekend I whipped out my first attempt at a screen play.  It was rough, improperly formatted, typo-ridden, and weird.  The weird part was intentional, the rest was a byproduct of fast thoughts, slow hands, and lack of knowledge.

My first draft had visual and audio cues already written in, since apparently when I start to think about these things I can’t just focus on the words.  I took the draft, sent it over to my friend Brian Carbine who is a super talented director in his third year of MFA at CalArts, and asked him if he’d be willing to help me develop it a bit.  I had little confidence, and less knowledge of what I needed to do to make this little project a reality.  After two or three drinks, Carbine had sufficiently convinced me that if the project was something I believed in then I needed to make it a reality.  Next steps, re-writes, finding an actor, costume, production design, re-evaluating life, and finding the time.

Conveniently I live with a production designer, am friends with a costume designer,  have a graduate school colleague who is an amazing writer, and I left the actor business to Carbine.

Fast forward two months, many hours of stress, a number of trips to thrift stores, a couple pints of paint, a few pints of beers and screen testing and fitting day arrived.

The film is my meditation on the oddities of the modern freelance workforce.  All filmed in one location, all parts are played by one actor, the film calls into question the way we communicate and think about our work-life balance in contemporary times.

Because it was all one actor we split our one-day shoot into three parts: first, the main character who has no costume changes; second we shot the other characters who appear in the film, each of whom required varying amounts of transformation and costuming; and finally third, the voice-overs.

For now, I’m going to leave this post as it is.  I’m currently in post production, have one last shot to get, a composer to work with, and a lot of inspiration to bring the final product to life.  I’ll add more updates as progress continues.

I want to thank Brian Carbine for inspiration and a thoughtful ear, Stephanie Petagno for the awesome costumes and character design, Peter Marks for his amazing performance and flexibility, Daniel Foerste for awesome camera work, Scott Riley for looking over my early draft, and Alexandra Friedman for all her support.

You may also like